What I’m Doing This Year

Of course I made a plan for the year. Obviously. I got out my paper calendar and I wrote things down and I crossed things off and I came up with a master, super schedule for my serious jump back into triathlon/first Ironman ever.

Here’s the plan, more or less, subject to change without warning:

MARCH

Training Camps: Alyssa convinced me it’d be a super great awesome idea to go do a long weekend training camp the last weekend of Feb/first weekend of March in Arizona with Hillary. I’d been trying to decide between Coast Ride and some kind of training weekend and this sounded more fun. I’ve ridden on the coast before; it’s not that exciting. Of course, then, it turned out that PacWest (my new team!) was doing their Arizona training camp the following weekend. So, now, I’m in Arizona for ten days to hang out with my sister, train, work and, hopefully, not catch Valley Fever. I’m like 73% sure I’m not going to make it through all this.

Oakland Half-Marathon or Shamrock’nIn case you didn’t notice, I did not race the Kaiser Half Marathon last weekend. My body was just too beaten up and it would have been a disaster/I’d have hurt myself. But, I’d still like to race a half in early spring and see where I’m at. Depending on how I feel after training camps, I’ll either do Shamrock’n (the weekend right after) or Oakland (two weekends after). Oakland is probably a smarter idea, but I’ve heard it’s long — like 13.4 instead of 13.1 — and I’d really like to set a PR, so I’m apprehensive about the extra quarter-mile.

APRIL

HITS Napa Valley Long Course: I’m not 100% sure this is my most smartest idea ever. But, I want to get a couple (ie. two) halves in before IM Coeur d’Alene. And, this is the best open time to do that in early April and also not give more money to WTC (Ironman Corporation). So, it’ll be a shaking the cobwebs off kind of race. We’ll see. Ideally, it’s not as cold as when I raced the Olympic there a few years ago.

Boston Marathon: A few weeks ago, I told someone that I wasn’t going to race this all out; it’s not a goal race. And, they were in shock. Why not?! Uh, cause you only have so many A efforts in you. Of course I’m going to run Boston this year. It’ll be fun and I’m pretty sure every single person I know is doing it, all of the people. But, am I going to try and kill myself to run a 3:04 or something? No. Definitely not.

MAY

Wildflower Long CourseI have some demons to shake at Wildflower. It is not my most favorite race. I’ve done the Olympic twice, ended up in the med tent twice and finished once. It is an iconic triathlon, though. And, a bunch of people from PacWest will be doing it, plus more friends I’m sure. And, it fits well with an end of June Ironman. As long as I don’t kill myself with it being 12 days after Boston and me being at a wedding/in Chicago for five of those days.

Morgan Hill SprintThe last time I did this race Chris McCormack and Chris Lieto did it too. Actually, I think the last time I did it, it hailed and I got a flat tire but didn’t know. The time before that, they did it. And, I’ve been told they’ll be back this year. I love sprint races and I like USA Productions for local, fun events. Though, I’ve also been told that with the drought the race will be moved because the reservoir is dry. So.

JUNE

Escape from Alcatraz: I am so excited about this. Which sounds insane — “I’m super excited to dive off a boat with 1,000 other people into 55 degree water and then bike up and down all over San Francisco and then run across sand and up stairs and through tunnels. Yay!” But, it and Pacific Grove are my favorite races, in a totally masochistic way. And, I haven’t done Escape since 2011. So, it’ll be “fun” and a good last hard race before Ironman.

DispeaThen, a week later, I’m running the Dipsea. Naturally. Because there’s really nothing quite like the Alcatraz-Dipsea combo to totally mess you up. Also, if I don’t do it, I’m pretty sure I’ll never get a spot again. Then, I’m resting.

Ironman Coeur d’AleneAnd, then, the last weekend of June, it’s the BIG ONE. The Ironman. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Already stressing.

After Ironman, I really don’t know what I’m doing the second half of the year. I mean that quite actually, not just in terms of racing. Ideally I’ll be making a trip to a certain island in October, depending on how IM CDA goes. But, there’s no way to control everything about that or to know in advance. I may do another Ironman in Mexico in December instead. I’d also like to race Age Group Nationals in August, because 1. it’s in Milwaukee, which would be awesome for my aunt/uncle/cousin to come and 2. it’s a pre-requisite to qualify for 2015 Worlds in Chicago, which I crazy want to do.

However, I’m not making plans yet. Steve says I’m trying to spend all of our money, which if I did all these things I’d probably accomplish. I also just finished applying to grad school and to a job that also sounds awesome. Now, I’m waiting to  figure out how those things work out and to make a decision. So, when I say I don’t know yet what’s happening after June 29, I really mean it.

What races are you doing this year?

It’s All In Your Head

The photos from CIM came out today — not that Steve didn’t take a few on his phone. What is interesting about the pictures and the ones Steve took, including a video (which I just can’t get off his phone because he is not here and I am being the hugest bum in the world this week) is that I don’t look like I’m in the most pain I’ve ever been in. I don’t look like I’m basically walking and like I’m positive I won’t be able to finish. For the most part, I look the same as when I was running well. Eventually, I look like I’m about to die in the pictures. But, long before it shows up on film, I was already falling apart. The thing is: it’s not visible to anyone else.

This is right where things started to go really bad, because I remember that guy. And I remember the photographer. And, I remember thinking my legs are failing and I am in excruciating pain:

cim1

Crossing this bridge was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. It was about four miles to go. Four miles. How was I possibly ever going to make it four miles?

cim2

OK, this is where I finally look like I’m about to fall over. Because I am. The people at the finish line started yelling at me right after this to keep moving and I almost punched them in the face:

cim3

And, yes, for the record, it got really cold after I slowed down. I took the long sleeve off around six miles in and was totally fine while I was moving. But, when I slowed down 2’/mile my core temperature dropped too. I think it screwed me up permanently because I basically didn’t warm up for two or three days.

Just remember, though, no one else can tell how much it hurts.

Race Report: California International Marathon

Yesterday, I ran the first half of the race in 1:33 and the second half of the race in 1:57. I don’t think I’ve ever blown up that much and finished. Actually, I’m positive I’ve never had such a terrible, painful race and not dropped out, because if it’s going that badly it’s usually for a reason.

The race started ok. I barely made the start, which wasn’t really my fault. I mean, I suppose it was my fault since I could have left earlier, but at 6:45 a.m. the shuttle bus from the drop-off point hadn’t reached the start yet, which was happening at 7 a.m. I made it though. I ran up the side of the corrals and jumped in at my spot and they said “3, 2, 1. The start of the California International Marathon!”

The first half went by. I ran 7:05s more or less. A couple 6:57 miles, a few 7:10 miles, but mostly right on pace. It was cold. So cold that my legs froze and I couldn’t feel my shorts, so I kept becoming convinced that I wasn’t wearing shorts and having to look down to check. At each aid station, the water that spilled on the ground had re-frozen into ice and everyone was slipping all over. Other than that, it was good. I felt good.

Around 12 or 13 miles, it wasn’t exactly easy anymore, but the pace was still there. I figured that’s ok; it’s not going to be easy forever.

Then, rather abruptly, around 14.5, it became excruciatingly painful. You know how after a marathon or a hard race, you can’t bend your legs or move or walk? That was how I suddenly felt with 12 more miles to run. My IT band felt like it was ripping out of the side of my left knee, my calves were knotted up, but mostly my quads were quivering with pain. It felt like my thigh bone was jamming into my hip and grinding on the top of my knee. It felt like everything was tearing every time I bent my knee or at my hip. What I’m saying is: it hurt, a lot.

Just keep going one mile at a time, right? Make it to 15 miles and then 16, etc. I was running 7:20s and then 7:30s at that point and fighting for it. There may have been hills there; I honestly have no idea. I kept going, but every step pain was shooting up my left leg. How was I possibly going to run 10 more miles? Around 18 or 19, I decided to stop to go to the bathroom. I’d had to go for like 10 miles — which is part of my whole stomach problems I need to figure out — but while I was running well I wasn’t going to stop. Now, though, as the 3:10 pace group was about to catch me, I thought maybe it could be a re-group. I’d go to the bathroom, stretch a second, and then start again, just 8 more miles.

It didn’t exactly work. TMI, etc, but when I sat down in the port-a-potty, my legs started shaking like crazy and wouldn’t stop. I never really got moving again after that. By the time I saw Steve a bit before 20 miles, I was 100% sure there was no way I could finish. I could barely walk and was shuffling 8:30s, how could I run six more miles? Why would I want to? The only reason I didn’t stop was because it was still like 30 degrees out. That is way too cold to wait for a bus after you DNF and Steve was on his bike, so I couldn’t get a ride. If he had the car, I would have definitely dropped out.

I don’t know exactly how I made it to the finish. It was one unbelievably painful step at a time. I went from 8:30s to 9:30s to 10:30s, I don’t even know. I don’t think I made it a single mile without stopping, thinking each time that maybe this time I could stretch my leg out and it’d stop hurting. It was so painful, pounding pain and every tendon, muscle, bone in my legs had already given up on me. I stopped trying to run and just tried to move forward. With 2 or 3 miles left, you hit the main area of Sacramento and are crossing these streets that are numbered. The race ends at 8th St. We were at 57th. At that point, it was one block at a time, one step at a time. I’m pretty sure the last two miles took me 25 minutes.

I don’t know exactly what happened. It was complete muscle-skeletal, body failure. Aerobically, I was fine, which made the whole thing particularly infuriating and put me on the edge of tears that whole time. I knew that my foot has been injured and I knew that because of that I hadn’t necessarily been able to train as much as I needed, so I knew there was a possibility I wasn’t going to be able to run the 3:07 I wanted and that I’d blow up. But, I made my bet. I ran on pace and thought I’d hold onto it as best as possible and maybe I’d slow down some and end up running a 3:10 or 3:11 or something. And, it turned out, I didn’t have the muscular endurance for that. I’ve only been able to run over 15 miles twice this block and my body just didn’t have it I guess. I’m pretty sure if it had been a half-marathon, I’d have been able to PR. But, it wasn’t a half.

On the plus side, I did finish. Even slowing down that much, I still ran a 3:30? Which is ok I guess. (Yes, I get that would be great for some people. But, the 3:07 I was aiming for would also have been terrible for some people. So, other people’s expectations are kind of irrelevant.) And, I know now that I can finish. The last few miles, when I knew I’d make it eventually, I thought, ‘Well, it’s going to hurt at the end of Ironman, so if you can’t do this, how are you going to do that?’ So, there’s that.

And, now, I’m really fucked up. Not so shockingly, way way more screwed up than any other race I’ve ever done. Picking up my foot to get into the car requires actually grabbing my leg with my hands and picking it up. I don’t intend to do anything for a week or two. And, then, it’s time to figure out how to get some of these problems fixed.

California International Marathon

Time to run.

Ate a whole bunch of food. Got my race number. Have my layers and layers of warm clothes ready for the 20 degrees in the morning. Picked a race outfit too, naturally.

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Yes, Tupac helped me pick the outfit, but he didn’t come with us. We were considering it – if we got one of those little pet backpacks. Instead, Steve is going to bike all over and I’m going to try to run fast enough to be in the right spots at the right times.

All of you better be thinking of me and judging me if I don’t do good. That way when it starts to hurt, I’ll know I have to go faster or all my internet fans will hate me. Obviously.

#6228 tomorrow

Turkey Day 5K — The One in Which Steve Runs

Because I skipped the PA cross-country race last weekend, I wanted to do a 5K or something this week to get the legs moving before CIM. It’s my theory that if you run a fast race a week or so before a marathon, then marathon pace feels much easier.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving is the most popular day in the country for races. So, I picked a turkey trot near my parents’ house in Lincoln Park in Chicago. The only downside was that it was cold even for Chicago, like 18 degrees by the lake. When I took my gloves off to pin my race number on, I had to do it quickly before my hands froze, but it got harder the longer it took because I couldn’t feel my fingers. It was like trying to dismantle a bomb.

Somehow, I managed to convince Steve to run the 5K too, even though he hasn’t run in seven years. I figured it was my last chance to beat him ever if he starts running again soon. And, I didn’t want to be out in the cold on my own.

So cold after the race. Still, so cold.
So cold after the race. Still, so cold.

We warmed up for about 15′ and took off the top layer of sweatshirts, but that was pretty much the extent of getting ready.

Steve dropped me in the first mile, but I figured my only chance was that he would blow up. Also, I was running the fastest I really should/could right now. I hit the first mile around 6:10, but it felt great and easy. The second mile was a 6:25 or so, but it still felt pretty good until the very end when we turned and the wind made my eyes start to water. The last mile I felt shitty, but I suppose that’s to be expected. If you didn’t feel shitty in a 5K, then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. I was fighting to not slow down too much, but I’m pretty sure I still slowed down. Instead of passing people, people started to pass me and I started to wonder where the end was going to be. Where? Where?

I ended up crossing the line in 19:44, about 50″ behind Steve and about 20-25″ slower than I had hoped to do. It was never going to be my fastest 5K, but I thought it’d be a little faster. Still, it was about as good as I could have hoped for and it got the job done — ready for CIM next weekend.

Then, about 10′ later I probably could have done the exact same thing again, but I couldn’t have gone any faster. Steve, though, was sure he could have run faster, but was also crippled from running at all and has pretty much struggled to walk down stairs since Thursday. I guess that’s what being in marathon shape is. I hope.

Training Week: Nov. 18-24

Who knows. Who KNOWS. Did I mention coaching yourself can be stressful and cause a lot of self-induced panic?

Monday

Ran 8.75 miles with 6 x 5′ at 6:41, 6:40, 6:25, 6:38, 6:28, 6:33. The ones in the 6:20s were actually the easiest because of the false flat of the long path, so that one way is slightly downhill and one is up. Also, I guess I eventually got in a groove.

Tuesday

Rain. God I hate the rain. Tried to bike to the ferry, but failed. Turned around after getting soaked, which totaled like 30′ of biking. Then, took the bus to cross-country practice, because I didn’t feel like getting wet again. But, with some kind of accident and traffic, it took an hour. AN HOUR. I’m not making this up, I can run from my house to the high school in 40′. After I finally got there, ran about 3.5 miles easy with the kids.

Wednesday

TRX class, which was surprisingly hard and ab-aching.

Swam 1,600y easy after, with a handful of hard 100s thrown in.

Thursday

Crossfit class in the morning. I deadlifted 160 lbs. That seems like a lot to me, but I guess it’s not? Then, we did like a set of stuff that involved a lot of overhead presses (which I’m terrible at ever since I slammed a bar into my mouth and bit through my lip) and a lot of sit-ups (which were awful with how much my abs hurt from TRX).

Friday

Ran 20 miles. It’s a combination of my favorite running route, plus running up and over the hill from my house into San Anselmo, then hooking up at Phoenix Lake, watershed, back down to Deer Park, through Fairfax and back over the hill. It was rough and slow and felt awful. But, I did manage a couple 7:30s and even a bit of that at 7:00 at the end, so I suppose that’s encouraging, even if it felt really hard.

Saturday

The beat-up-ed-ness prompted a revised schedule. Biked 25′ or so to pick up the car, then ran around the high school sectional meet to watch — mostly SPRINT, jog, walk, SPRINT.

Sunday

Did not make it to the race I intended to make it to. Mountain biked the 680 Trail instead, which amounted to about 1:40 of riding — some of it really hard, the kind where I have to lean way over the front of my bike to stop it from tipping, and some of it not so hard. If you haven’t been to the trail, you should try it. And, yes, you will feel like you’re lost.

Not bad overall? Maybe?

TOTAL: 10:05

Not Even Showing Up to the Start Line

Yesterday, I was supposed to run the Pacific Association cross-country championship race in Golden Gate Park. And, by “supposed to” I mean that I hadn’t exactly signed up yet, just that it was on my training schedule and I fully intended to go.

But, I didn’t go.

It’s not that I dislike the PA XC Champs race. It’s terrible fun and I’ve done it most years. And, usually, it falls the day after the high school cross-country sectional race, so I’m all invigorated to go out there and run some crazy stuff over logs and up hills and through sand. This year, though, I just wasn’t.

I was worn out and tired and things hurt. The combination of a few days of TRX, Crossfit and my last/only 20-mile run left my body pretty beaten up this weekend and running around the high school meet didn’t do much to help. In fact, it hurt my toe more, with all the sprinting back and forth across the field in random shoes without the orthodic, etc. So, when I woke up at 7 a.m. yesterday to eat breakfast and head to Golden Gate, instead, I just didn’t get up.

This isn’t exactly a strategy I would advise and it’s left me with more than a few doubts going into CIM, which we’re just going to not talk about, and a little sad I missed the terrible fun. But, when you know it’s going to be a hard race and you know you’re going to spend a lot of the race questioning why you care about coming in 43rd or 39th, you kind of have to be all in at the start and not asking those questions beforehand — or it just isn’t going to go well. (And, the last thing I need right now is another shitty race.)

So, instead, I slept until 10 a.m. and went for a mountain bike ride. Hoping that was the right decision, right coach?

Last Long Run Before CIM

Things that were bad about my 20-miler yesterday:

  • It was almost two weeks after it was supposed to be
  • My toe did not feel great
  • I got crazy blisters because I had to wear old shoes that make my toe at least feel ok
  • Like, crazy blisters
  • For two weeks left until CIM, it did not feel as good as I would have hoped
  • In fact, it felt awful
  • And, significantly slower than in previous training cycles
  • My right hamstring and calf seized up so badly that, as soon as I stopped running, I could barely walk
  • My toe feels even less great today after running around the high school cross-country sectional meet

Things were good about my 20-miler:

  • It happened.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to chalk that up as a victory at this point, put our head down and hope it all comes together for CIM. Hopefully.

Training Week: Nov. 11-17

This week I winged it. Wung it? Decided I definitely needed to rest to give my toe a chance to heal, but I didn’t want to lose all fitness or the possibility of being ready for CIM in three weeks. (AGH, three weeks!?) Also, I had to run around a lot of different places and do different things, so, I just sort of decided each morning what I’d do that day.

Not a great plan. But, since I can run again, it sort of worked. Sort of.

Monday

Need to rest the foot.

Tuesday

3,000y at Masters. Not the worst I’ve ever swum, mostly just a bunch of 300s in 4:15-4:25 with some hard 75s and stuff after. Swimming is sort of hard and I hate it.

Wednesday

Was going to go to a TRX class at YMCA, but even though they said the class was open when I called 15′ before it started, it wasn’t open when I showed up.

Ended up riding 1:40 or so with Steve. It was surprisingly hard. When I ran around yelling at kids at the conference cross-country championships in the afternoon my legs hurt. A lot.

Thursday

Water ran 20′ with some harder efforts, mixed in with about 1250y of swimming — including a couple hard 100s.

Friday

Ran 9.5 miles down Mt. Tam. AND, it didn’t hurt my toe! It did, however, hurt my quads. It turns out all the way down Mt. Tam is a lot of downhill. Biked to the bus and back from meeting people too, totaling a few miles.

Saturday

Rode 3:00 with Steve. Thought it was going to be 2:30, but I’ve been terrible at guessing bike route times lately. We also had a small break in the middle to help a tandem fix a broken chain, only we were not successful. And by we, I mean Steve figured it out and tried different things, but it was broken in too many places. I mostly went, yeah, I think I know that it’s possible to fix that. Even with Steve on the mountain bike, it was still pretty hard to keep up with him on the most best cycling route in Marin.

Sunday

Rest time. No real reason. Planned on doing more, but needed to get some work done and was tired, tired, tired. Didn’t realize how tired until this morning actually when I slept straight through my alarm. Ah well.

TOTAL: 8:25

Maybe I’ll be ready for CIM? Maybe??